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Lake Superior Fish at Their Finest

Nearly 300 people navigated the grounds of Glensheen Mansion in Duluth, Minn., one evening last September. There, on the shores of Lake Superior, a 2,400 square-foot tent anchored a collection of local vendor booths, live music, and the smell of gourmet entrées. The catalyst for the fete wasn't the history of Glensheen; it was sustainable Lake Superior fish.

Replete with the sights, sounds and smells of a noteworthy event, the fourth annual Taste of Lake Superior Fish Classic showcased eight regional chefs presenting their best Superior fish dish at the event's first outdoor venue. With either Cisco (a.k.a. Lake Herring) or Lake Whitefish in hand each culinary artist fashioned fish entrées in hopes of earning one of three prizes first or second place (awarded by professional judges) or People's Choice (awarded by the event goers).

Robert Wohlfeil

Robert Wohlfeil

Robert Wohlfeil, Executive Chef at Oceanaire Seafood Room in Minneapolis, took home top honors for his Lake Herring with Herbed White Bean Mash and Apple Chutney. The judges awarded Ledge Rock Grille's Uriah Hefter second place with his combination dish of Hot Smoked Whitefish with Yucca Coals and Heirloom Tomato Salad and Pepper Crusted Herring with Lime Wasabi Dressing, Sweet Potato Foam, and Golden Beet Slaw. In the vote for People's Choice, event guests awarded Tom Hanson of the Duluth Grill for his Duluth Grill's White Fish Paella.

Passing the Baton

Created by Minnesota Sea Grant as a Minneapolis-based event in 2011, the Taste of Lake Superior Fish Classic originally highlighted the use of Cisco, a Minnesota commodity caught and sold along Lake Superior's North Shore. After the successful event was repeated in 2012, Minnesota Sea Grant and Wisconsin Sea Grant jointly brought the event to Duluth in 2013, where Superior's Lake Whitefish from Wisconsin joined Minnesota's Cisco in a sold-out event. The Minnesota and Wisconsin Sea Grant programs took a supportive role in 2014, when Lake Superior Magazine brought their sophisticated touch to the event, which sold out for the second year in a row.

"We are thrilled," said Sharon Moen, Communications Coordinator at Minnesota Sea Grant, of the event's transfer from Sea Grant hands. Moen played a leading role in bringing the event to life in its first year and headed planning for the event in 2012 and 2013. "When pondering this event in its first year, Minnesota Sea Grant hoped it would generate sustained interest in Minnesota's sustainably managed commercial fishery. We're excited that the chefs, the public, and Lake Superior Magazine have made this hope a reality."

Keep your forks ready! Lake Superior Magazine is looking toward more fun and more fish in 2015. For more information on the Taste of Lake Superior Fish Classic 2014 as well as the winning recipes from the event, visit www.tasteoflakesuperior.com. For even more Lake Superior fish recipes, see: www.seagrant.umn.edu/fisheries/fishrecipes.

By Russell Habermann
December 2014

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